Thursday, September 14, 2017

Leaping Forward

Over the weekend, Finn had the opportunity to Facetime with his very good friend from back in Champaign. It was adorable; they laughed and told stories and Finn walked all around the house showing her where he has been staying. She filled him in on Nutcracker auditions which had happened the day before, and he asked dozens of questions about life at his former school.

Somehow Finn remembered that the Nutcracker cast list was going to be posted online on Wednesday night, and when he woke up this morning, he immediately asked if he could look at it. He spent the next twenty minutes poring over the six page PDF, commenting on friends who had moved into bigger roles, looking for friends he remembers from previous productions. I watched him as I toasted waffles and poured juice, wondering what was going on in that head of his. While Finn had a love/hate relationship with attending ballet class, he loved being a part of The Nutcracker these last three years, and I know that leaving that has been on his mind.

Finally I asked, "You okay?"

"I'm excited for my friends. But I'm a little sad that I can't be in it this year."

Not ten seconds later, he asked me if he could practice the monologue for his audition at Grandstreet this weekend, and for the next twenty minutes he did just that.

I could learn a lot from this kid. In the face of sadness and a feeling of loss, he turned his attention to something new, something exciting, and moved forward. If he is successful at his audition, he will have the opportunity to be a part of a musical here in Helena, to meet new friends, to perform on stage in a different way than he did as a ballet dancer. He will take with him all that he learned; focus, poise, determination, strength. One experience does not replace the other, but I'm pretty proud of his resiliency and willingness to try something new. I can't wait to see him shine.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Eye Candy - The Prairie Sisters Vintage Market

On Saturday, I was fortunate enough to attend The Prairie Sisters Vintage Market in Missoula, Montana. There actually are two real sisters behind this event - Laura and Jami - and they hold five vintage markets throughout the state every year. Appropriately enough, I attended with a trio of sisters - Sean's wonderful cousins Ami, Christy, and Katy, among others - and we had a blast exploring the nooks and crannies of the super cool stalls.

Seeing as I am currently between homes, I figured it probably wasn't wise to purchase a bunch of things to decorate an imaginary house. While I did not escape empty handed (hello, super cool vintage butterfly botanical poster), I focused more on the visual splendor of the market as seen through my camera lens. It really was such a feast for the eye. Enjoy!


Friday, September 8, 2017

20 Things

This is a recap of the "20 Things I Love about CU" posts I shared on Facebook during our last 20 days in Champaign-Urbana. I'm including it here mostly for my archival pleasure, but feel free to scroll through. Those of you in CU can hopefully join me in confirming many of my choices; those of you who wonder why the heck we spent fifteen years in CU can hopefully gain some insight on what a special place it is.

#20 - Sakanaya - The best sushi joint in CU.

#19 - The Virginia Theater...and so many memories of enjoying performances and movies with good friends and family at my side.

#18 - Meadowbrook Park. I know I'm about to move somewhere stunningly beautiful, but there is something about the prairie. I will always love and remember the late summer wildflowers and bike rides and deer sightings.


#17 - GSLiS / the iSchool / the library school / whatever you call it. It's the reason we came here in the first place (for two years - tops!) and led to everything else that has happened, including my job at King and, indirectly, Sean's internship at Westview.

Pretty lucky that I had the opportunity to stay in the town where my mentors are for so long. Very lucky that the Bulletin welcomed me as a reviewer all those years.

#16 - Black Dog. Every.single.time. I think my dad will miss it too.

#15 - Sunsets. I've always thought it strange that Montana gets to be Big Sky country when in fact us flatlanders get a whole lot more sky to enjoy without those pesky mountains getting in the way.

Photo taken last August when my big sister Annie and I went sunset chasing west of town.

#14 - The Urbana Farmers Market. This one gets a whole collage of photos because I love it so very much. I remember walking there from our first house in east Urbana, practically living there during our year on Race Street, and happily wearing babies/pulling wagons/holding hands there these last ten years. I will miss it.

#13 - St. Patricks. We picked it from among several parishes just a few weeks after arriving here in 2002...and we are really picky in our brand of Catholicism. It has been a wonderful church home for our family, and we've made lots of great friends there.

#12 - CU Ballet / Champaign Ballet Academy. Finn auditioned for The Nutcracker for the first time in Kindergarten. He wasn't cast that year, and when he brought home the flyer in 1st grade and said he wanted to try again, I was admittedly a little nervous. He had now performed in three Nutcrackers and studied ballet for three years. It had been so good for him: his focus, his attention to precision, his friendships. Last year, Sean and Emmett joined him on stage and my heart pretty much exploded the entire run. How I will miss it.

#11 - King School. As my Urbana colleagues head to UMS for Opening Day, I gotta say it's feeling pretty weird not to be among them. Sending love and strength to you all!

 #10 - The King School Library. Twelve years (well, twelve minus two) is a long time to sink your heart and soul into a place. I'm pretty darn proud of what I accomplished during my tenure, and I'd like to think there are King kids with great memories of time spent there.


#9 - West Side Park. I love that we can walk there, that my kiddos got to hang out there so frequently while at FUMCCC, that the route from our house to downtown goes right through it. I love that when I was nursing E and chasing F and I sent the park district a letter about the need for a bench near the playground they installed one the next week. I love that it's the first place my boys ventured to independently.

 #8 - So this entry is a little specific, but I love the Huevos Rancheros Stack at Destihl so much that I've written to Bon Appetit magazine on multiple occasions asking them to track down the recipe for me. It is so crazy good.    

 #7 - My King School family. Tonight I'm ugly crying as I read your kind words and remember all the good times. You are in my heart.

#6 - Proximity to Chicago. Being 128 miles away from my childhood has its benefits.

#5 - Spark Play Cafe. So this one is a late entry but this fantastic cafe/bar/coffee shop/children's museum is the very kind of place I have always dreamed of opening. Maybe I'll do it in Helena...

 #4 -  Champaign Public Library. Stopped in today to turn in our reading program cards and get free books. The place is abuzz with eclipse madness, but even on a regular day, there's always an energy here. The staff is top notch, the collection unmatched, and the memories abundant. Oh, and the lobby decor is always the best.

#3 - My People. No photos. No names. But I have a wonderful tribe here and am so filled with gratitude and love on this, my last night on Union Street. ❤️

A special shout-out to those who have helped me get through these last few weeks...taking the boys, feeding me, packing my ENTIRE kitchen. I hope that on the flip side it is what I'll remember about this crazy transition.

#2 - Finn & Emmett. Born in Urbana, raised in Champaign. Products of this quirky microurban community and so much more. They are handling this transition incredibly, in no small part because of the aforementioned tribe that surrounds us.

Thanks, CU, for loving my kiddos. MT, fasten your they come!

 #1 - Champaign Urbana. Fifteen years of memories. We came here as a newly engaged couple just a year home from Mongolia. We leave with three masters degrees, a dozen years of professional experience, fourteen years of marriage, and two great kids [see #2]. It has been a wild ride, and leaving is bittersweet. We're pretty excited about our new chapter, however, and I can't wait to share 20 things I love about Helena down the road.

Thanks to all who have been a part of our CU story.

❤️ Hope


Thursday, September 7, 2017

The New Normal

My last post at Hopeful was in January 2014 -- 1323 days ago. Let's take a moment to get you up to date...

Finn, previously a six year old Kindergartner, is now an almost ten year old fourth grader:

Emmett, previously an almost four year old preschooler, ) is now a seven year old second grader:

Sean, previously an elementary school principal in Illinois, is now a district administrator in Montana:

Hope, previously an elementary school library media specialist in Illinois, is now...well, I'm not quite sure what I am. In the immediate moment, I am thinking I'd like to be a blogger again, among other things. So here I am.

About six weeks ago, Sean landed a sweet job in his hometown of beautiful Helena, Montana. In the last six weeks we've put our little yellow house on the market (you can visit it here), moved 1516 miles cross country, enrolled our kids in a brand new school (which happens to be Sean's old school), and moved in with Sean's parents while we look for a house of our own. To say it has been a time of tremendous transition and gigantic emotions would be a gross understatement, but we're finally mostly on the flipside of the madness and it's starting to get exciting.

Not sure what this space will look like, but as I find myself wanting to write, it seemed as good a space as any to do that. You can subscribe at the bottom if you'd like email notifications on new posts. Thanks for joining our family as we figure out the new normal.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bicycles for the Boys

When we decided to move Finn and Emmett into the same room this past fall, it seemed like a natural time to redecorate. Out went the soft sculpture rainbow and butterflies from the nursery, in with something new. But what?

Not sure how we came up with bicycles, but the boys loved the idea and so did Sean and I. It wasn't a common theme, which we loved, and it was clear from the get-go that we'd have to create and gather a lot of the details ourselves.

I found fabric for curtains (and perhaps patchwork duvet covers in the future) here and worked that in wherever I could; curtain pullbacks, valances, a bulletin board. We found the bicycle print at Uncommon Goods and my mom got us the bicycle mobile from Signals. I found picture frames made of bicycle chains at Ten Thousand Villages here in Champaign, which we used to frame recent (or, in the case of E, recent-ish) pictures of the boys on their bikes:

 Ready for the irony? About a month after we finished custom creating our very original theme, the Pottery Barn Kids catalog shows up, including a featured new line of - yeah - bicycles. The fabric is almost identical to what I used for window dressing and the kids' bulletin board.

From Pottery Barn Kids

Oh well. What we lack in uniquity we hopefully made up for in effort. Here are a few pics of the finished room. Enjoy!